New Lamps for Old...

2019 was a year of new homes for performers, companies and venues alike.

Neil Hurst left the Victoria Theatre, Halifax for Hull New Theatre after a decade as resident Comic and after twelve years at His Majesty’s Theatre, Aberdeen, Jordan Young crossed to the King’s Theatre Edinburgh. For Imagine Theatre, the re-opening of Croydon’s Fairfield Halls welcomed a new era of producing at the venue’s Concert Hall with Cinderella whilst Anton Benson Productions produced at the Kenneth More Theatre, Ilford for the first time since its temporary closure earlier in the year. Artsdepot, London welcomed its first pantomime, a rock ‘n’ roll Cinderella courtesy of New Wolsey, Ipswich’s Peter Rowe, and the Mercury Theatre, Colchester moved from its usual venue into a tent in nearby Abbey Fields whilst renovation works took place.

For production company Prime Pantomimes, 2019 saw a great expansion of venues to four in 2019: Harrow Arts Centre, Gatehouse Theatre, Stafford, Queen’s Theatre, Barnstaple and New Theatre, Peterborough, providing pantomime product for Selladoor Worldwide venues, a co-founder of the company with Immersion Theatre Company. This approach is similar to that taken by the Ambassador Theatre Group when First Family Entertainment was founded as a wholly owned subsidiary, or by Qdos Entertainment supplying pantomimes to its theatre business HQ Theatre.

New roles were on the cards for regular Colchester Comic Dale Superville as he donned frocks as an Ugly Sister, Matthew Quinn took over Dame duties from Francis Tucker at the Liverpool Everyman Theatre and Darren Day moved from Villain to Comic in Southampton for Qdos Entertainment.

2019 was also a season of title firsts; Little Wolf Entertainment produced its first Peter Pan (Derby Arena), Imagine Theatre presented its first Puss in Boots to mark the 25th anniversary of resident writer, director and Dame Iain Lauchlan at the Belgrade Theatre, Coventry, Above The Stag staged its first Mother Goose and the London Palladium welcomed its first ever Goldilocks and the Three Bears.

Panto debuts were also strong for 2019 with Lesley Garrett, Scarlett Moffatt, Ore Oduba, Dr Ranj, Jenna Russell, Didi Conn, Mica Paris and Doon Mackichan all appearing for the first time.